Just as I thought I had a good understanding of what to expect on the Kokoda Track day five caught me by surprise. The terrain and most notably the weather changed significantly and we were back to camping in remote places away from villages. It was the joint longest day to date (both in distance and time) with day two, though it wasn’t as hard as that epic day of hill climbing.
Leaving Efogi village as day was breaking we headed downhill to Kavae River for a by now fairly standard log bridge crossing.
It was then a steady climb up hill to to Efogi 1, the original village. The one we stayed in was technically Efogi 2, though it is now much larger. Efogi 1 was the first village on the track to adopt the teachings of the Seventh Day Adventist’s. They are now throughout the villages along the Kokoda Track, bringing God and a welcome ban on alcohol, cigarettes, betel nuts, and gambling.
A steep and slippery rocky track took us back down a hill to the Evoge River, followed by a long climb to Naduri Village. This was home to wonderful views of the area, including of Efogi 1 and Kagi villages.
The views improved as we climbed higher behind the village.
While enjoying the view a huge group from Kokoda Escape walked by the other way. With about 15 guests and around double that in porters it took a while to pass. Apparently this is the average size of a Kokoda Track group, which made me appreciate my group of three and seven porters even more. A large group takes basically the whole day to walk each section of track at a painfully slow pace, while we typically would finish each section between late morning and early afternoon, allowing time for rest and exploration of the area.
This is where the air con part of the track kicked in, with a cool breeze proving welcome then, less so later in the day.
We passed by these unusual patches of seemingly dead trees. They’re actually still alive but have been well cut back by the locals for firewood. Below them are gardens used for growing food, established on steep northernly facing slopes to catch the afternoon sun. The trees hold the soil together, and once the garden has been finished with they are allowed to grow again.
In search of more exercise and to see a few sights off the main track one of the porters and I took a 40 min detour at a fast pace. We visited the motar dump, home to ammunition and arms found in the local area from the fighting during WW2.
By the cabinet of arms was the tail piece of a light aircraft that crashed here ten years ago. The body of the plane is in the nearby Myola 1 area nearby, a somewhat surreal patch of open land used for dropping supplies during WW2.
The detour was unusually flat for the Kokoda, allowing me for once to look up from my feet and enjoy the wonderful greenery along this part of the track.
We met up with the rest of the group for lunch at the pleasant if windy 1900 Crossing campsite. As usual we had noodle and meat wraps, best served toasted, surprisingly tasty.
From there was another solid hour walk up hill to reach the highest point on the track, the 2,190m high Mt Bellamy, though by this point we were walking in the clouds.
From here the track became super muddy and mostly steep down hill. The mud wasn’t too deep but it was slippery and required a lot of concentration to stay upright. We passed the Kokoda Gap, but couldn’t see it…
After an hour it was a relief to arrive at Templeton’s Crossing I Campsite, home for the night. While still warm from the walk I used the less cold than expected but still bracing outdoor shower…
It had apparently been raining in this area, from Mt Bellamy toward Kokoda, for the past two weeks, which explained the mud. The afternoon was no exception with steady rain for much of it. I’m fine with rain but the damp was quite incredible, clothes left out in the hut just got wetter. Our hut had no windows or door, resulting in the group ending up wearing basically every item of clothing we had with us.
I passed time with my third sketch of the trip, this time from a photo taken that morning of the view from Naduri village.
Thankfully overnight was better than expected thanks to my warmer than required sleeping bag, ending up overheating during the night.